Book Review: Fighter Cock by Sidharth Singh

Title: Fighter Cock

Author: Sidharth Singh

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Penguin India

Pages: 256

Lines from the novel: ‘This is not livestock, Mr Suri. This is black cock, Karianath. As you can see in the painting above me, this black cock is everything to us here in Shikargarh. It is our identity, our culture and now it will also be our business.’

‘Fighter Cock by Sidharth Singh’ is a book that gives you the vision of the universe of petty politics, rivalry and obsession for sex, drugs, and cockfighting. Each character retains their flaws yet is absorbing and dramatic. Although, in the beginning, I am not into this type of genre as much, still this debut gave me enough reason to carry on with it. 

Fightercock is a story based on the life of Sher Shah aka Sheru, who has a dangerous past. In a search for a job, he enters this unusual world of royal heritages, patriarchal society, and vengeance. This story is set in Shikargarh, Central India. An untamed wilderness is ruled by Raja Rattan Shah with a passion of blood sport. As Kings always need a new territory to conquer, Raja sahib launches his dream project, the black cock poultry farm, which rears top- class Karianath.

‘Sheru glanced up again at the shabby painting of the Shikargarh coat of arms and inspected the black rooster, framed by two crossed swords below and a fortress above, trying to find meaning in its bizarre heraldry.’

As the story unfolds and discover, more characters come into the spotlight with the basic plotline, that is ─ The Raja’s Karianath fighter cocks are the undisputed champions of the area, but their reign is challenged by the new Aseel fighters imported by Teja, his bastard son, who also schemes to take his position the Aseels had taken the cockfights by storm and upset the status.

In the next few chapters, we have been getting introduced to Sheru’s past life and his connection with Bombay’s underworld.

In the story the author has also described sheru’s childhood he says- as a child our Sheru often asked his mother why she had given him the name Sher Shah. And her answer set the environment of this novel, ‘because you are a tiger, the king of the jungle. You don’t know that yet, but one day you will.’

Once he lost both his parents, he questioned his life journey ‘Why on earth had Anna (his guardian) sent him to Shikargarh, of all places, when he could have easily packed him off down south or even abroad? What was Anna’s real connection with Murugan (Raja Sahib’s Assitant)? How long would he be able to survive here knowing that Anna’s life may be in danger?

As in projects, you need to construct a flow chart into your mind, you need to do the same here to understand the story because there are not a couple of plots but subplots and various tales and references, it is a wild trip, characters do clash, worlds rebuild and it really demands the reader attention.

Personally, I think Fighter Cock is a political thriller that reveals the difficult world of poor Kairus, who were caught in an endless web of debt and delusion. This weekly spectator-sport extravaganza and sports like cockfight was the only form of public entertainment in the area and brought in substantial revenue from illegal gambling, mahua and ganja sales, whereas the raja took the lion’s share of the proceeds.

The only thing interrupted in this novel is the usage of superabundant characters. The prose is clear, and moving sentences. The author managed to captivate drama in right place. I liked the nuances between Sherub and Kanya. ‘If you stay in Shikargarh long enough, you will stop wearing one. Time moves slowly around here,’ she said and extended a delicate but firm hand towards him. ‘I am kanya’.

Fighter cock novel is a kind of political thriller that will keep you hooked with each and every page of the book, it is interesting as well as boring at the same time. But I would definitely suggest this book is not for children below 16years.

Categories: Book Review